Title Kings Quest I - Quest for the Crown Genre Adventure Company Sierra Players 1 HD Installable Yes, see the end of this review Compatibillity All(?) Submission Joachim Froholt Profiled Reviewer Review (based on the Original AGI version of Kings Quest) In 1983, a group from IBM approached Sierra and told them that they were coming out with a new computer, the PCjr. To help launch this computer into the market, they needed a great new game which would show what this amazing system was able to do. They told Sierra that they would fund the development of this game as well as feature it in their tv-adverts. As Sierra was in deep financial trouble at the time, they were very excited with IBM's proposal, and accepted it. A year later, Kings Quest was finished. It was immediately the industry's hottest game - with ground breaking graphics and gameplay. Instead of being limited to still pictures, this game featured a character you could control with the joystick as he walked around in the animated game world (He could even walk BEHIND objects!!). No adventure gamer had ever experienced anything like this before. The Kings Quest I story goes like this: The kingdom of Daventry was once rich and prosperous. This was because they had three great treasures: A magic Chest filled with an endless supply of gold, a magic Mirror that had the power to show the future, and a Shield which made it's bearer and his army invincible. But these items were lost and Daventry grew poor and weak. Fearing that the country would fall into even greater disorder when he died, the old and weak King Edward sent for his favourite Knight, Sir Graham. He told him that if he could retrieve the three magic treasures, he would inherit the throne. You play the role of Sir Graham as he explores the kingdom of Daventry in search of the three treasures. You can control him using a joystick or the cursor keys. When you want him to do something, you will have to type it. If, for instance, you want him to climb a tree, you must move him close up to the tree and type CLIMB TREE. Unfortunately, the game doesn't pause when you start typing a command, so you sometimes have to type very quickly and avoid spelling mistakes at all costs or it's game over time. This feels unfair. The commands you use to control Sir Graham are very simple, usually two words (VERB, followed by OBJECT) will be enough. This is probably due to memory restrictions on the PCjr which had a whopping 265 kb Ram. While the simple parser is, in itself, no problem, Kings Quest recognizes too few words. This mean that you'll often have to search for synonymous words when the game doesn't understand you (which happens often). This can be really annoying, especially if English isn't your native language. As this is an adventure, there are plenty of puzzles. They are usually very simple (again, probably due to memory restrictions) - use the right object at the right location and get another object in return. The majority of the puzzles are actually pretty easy, but some are insanely difficult, and rely on chance encounters or dubious logic. Some times, important objects are also hidden well among what seems to be unimportant scenery. Some of the puzzles have been inspired from various fairy tales and folk stories, and if you don't know many of these you'll probably have great difficulties getting anywhere in Kings Quest. The situation is not made better by the very generic "You can't do that, or at least not for now" response which you're given when you do something wrong - no hints at all about whether you're on the right track or not. A good thing about the puzzles is that there is often more than one solution. Every time you solve a puzzle or get an important object, you receive points, so you can immediately see if you've done something wrong if these points go down. Also, if you get few points for solving a puzzle, chances are that there is another, more clever, way of solving this puzzle. There are also some optional puzzles which means that it is possible to finish the game without visiting all the locations. Unlike many (non-Sierra) adventure games, the player character can (and will) actually die in Kings Quest. There are countless of occasions where the wrong command or a step in the wrong direction will kill your character. While it is true that this adds a certain tension to the gameplaying experience, it has to be said that all it does in this game is to make it frustrating and extremely annoying in the long run. Players with low amount of patience should steer well clear of the early games in the Kings Quest series. The general rule of thumb is to save often and not overwrite older saves immediately (because it is possible to reach dead ends if you do things in the wrong order - while this is a very nasty design flaw, it's not as bad as it could have been, because you will probably understand that you're headed the wrong way fairly quickly). The game world isn't very believable. The kingdom of Daventry is very small and there are few characters to interact with. Besides, character interaction is far too simple, and communicating with the other inhabitants of Daventry can be a very difficult task. It doesn't seem as if Sierra put much thought into where they placed the various important locations and objects, as they are scattered around Daventry in a very unconvincing manner. A final major flaw is that there are no barriers where the game world ends. When you go north or west enough times, you will eventually arrive at your starting point. Apparently, the kingdom of Daventry is located on it's own little doughnut shaped planet... strange. As I said before, Kings Quest was originally created for the PCjr. Unfortunately, the Amiga version is practically identical to the PC version, and the graphics stink even by A500 standards. While the game animates smoothly, the resolution is terribly low (160x200) and there are only 16 colours on the screen. But the graphics do their job, and some of the scenes even look fairly decent, especially when you take the limitations of the engine into consideration. The less said about the sound, however, the better. Kings Quest is a landmark in the history of computer gaming and it stands out as one of the most important releases ever. But compared to other adventure games, there is nothing really great about Kings Quest. Story and character interaction is virtually non-existent, and the game feels like one big treasure hunt. Thanks to this and Roberta Williams' strange desire to kill the player at every possible location, Kings Quest remains today a very average adventure game. If you're not interested in the historical value of the game, then there's no real reason to obtain it, though it has to be said that it can be an enjoyable little game to play through on a particularily rainy night with a walkthrough at hand. *About HD Installation* Sierra shipped this game with a really painful copy protection. On the KQ disk you'll find a file with a read/write error. This can't be copied, and KQ needs it to run. Luckily, a patch can take care of this. You can download it from the Aminet: http://ftp.sunet.se/~aminet/dirs/game/patch/KQ1-Fix.lha Note that you still have to copy to HD manually.